Source: China State Council Information Office
The 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organization Heads of States Council Summit was held on November 10 through videoconferencing wherein heads of states of eight member countries were present to share their country’s stand point and policy position.
The Conference was important as Russian Federation culminated its outstanding Russian presidency year at the SCO forum with various projects and initiatives at the forum and Tajikistan will be the next host of the Summit in 2021. Russian Federation and Ministry of Foreign Affairs deserve all the applause of their contribution towards the goal and vision of the SCO. Both President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping made their presence together at the 20th Summit of Heads of State meeting especially after the tumultuous change in the White House. With far reaching implications, the US is still in process to have a smooth transition to next President to take office in January.
While a careful glance on the speeches and policy statements made at the forum, we have observed comprehensive response from the Chinese President Xi Jinping. President Xi Jinping put a tougher emphasis on coordinated efforts for eradication of COVID-19 pandemic, cooperation in security, stronger development cooperation and build people to people linkages. These values of shanghai spirit imbedded with contemporary wisdom from President Xi Jinping is making the forum grow stronger and robust in its approach.
Being the founding member and a leader in marching the torch of the Shanghai Spirit forward, President Xi Jinping presented the entire notion of how SCO has passed through an extraordinary journey of nearly two decades and how this should look towards future. Over the pass these decades, SCO has not only stood the test of time but also expand to add new members including Pakistan and India in the forum. President Xi, while referring to the outstanding constructive contribution of the SCO, refer to the SCO as an organization as a “force” in the Eurasian region and the global international political system.
It is also a proud moment for China to see the SCO growing and thriving where the countries are sharing the SCO Spirit with focusing on cooperation in the areas of people to people ties, political, security and growing economic preparedness. Covering the 42 percent of the world population and 24 percent economic share at the global scale, SCO is an important and unique organization. In the backdrop of UN 75th Anniversary, where there is a cry for further multilateralism especially at the face of the emerging regional and global challenges, President Xi also built on in his policy speech about the importance of the end of unilateralism.
There is a need for “openness” and enriched cooperation. SCO has all ingredients to carry forward the torch of solidarity and collaboration amongst states especially in the current scenario where the countries are diverging more than converging. President Xi has also aspired that the through togetherness, countries might be able to build shared destiny and shared future.
In his policy speech, there are few important solutions that President Xi shared with the world through the platform of SCO that how we all can help reduce the threats to humanity. First and foremost suggestion was to establish a joint mechanism and response towards the threats like COVID-19. SCO is an important forum. But still the forum was lacking the joint mechanism to counter such non-traditional security threats.
As suggested by President Xi, there should be an “Anti-epidemic Cooperation” against the virus. Through the weapons of togetherness and solidarity, we may be able to deal with this “once in a century” challenge. There is also stronger need to support multilateral organizations including WHO but at the same time we all need to refrain from blame game and shun all politics to work together and save humanity. This is also an important opportunity for the SCO to revamp itself especially in disaster risk response systems. President Xi has proposed to have scientific research cooperation and epidemic through the creation of Centers for Disease Controls.
Regional peace, security and stability has remained the foremost principal of SCO. President Xi highlighted the vision of the comprehensive, common, cooperative and sustainable security for all while addressing the threats together. Emphasizing the promotion and safeguarding the domestic political milieu of the member countries, President Xi stressed to oppose interference by any external forces. To promote the cooperation in the security of the region there is a strong need to confront all the terrorist and separatist groups to use COVID-19 in their favor, control the drug trafficking through deep cooperation of law enforcement agencies of the member states. Security and Development are linked to each other.
Followed by security, development should be innovative, inclusive and shared for all hence helping the communities to recover and rebuild. Belt and Road Initiative is an important global development project that synchronize all the development and poverty alleviation efforts. Through the mutual and broad range of investment, fast and quick delivery of goods, services, conducive business environment, digital economy, AI and e-commerce, the world will be a better place.
Next year China will host “China-SCO Forum on Digital Economy Industry” in Chongqing while at the same time President Xi offered that China may help to set up a China-SCO poverty reduction joint working group. Finally the significance of people to people relations and building togetherness through cultural exchanges and enhancing understanding amongst the diverse groups. These linkages should be in media, communications, culture, education, women groups and various institutions. President Xi proposed in his speech to SCO non-governmental friendship forum next year whereas SCO Youth Campus event is ongoing on regular basis.
SCO through its multilateral arrangement is one of the most significant structure that can multiply the cooperation and build on the world of the UN and other international organizations. SCO should play its effective role at the regional and global scale to build an inclusive, sustainable and lasting peace and prosperity for everyone.
The world needs China and China cannot work in isolation in the global political, economic, strategic and cultural system. China’s growth and prosperity is contributing towards the global development index and at the same time helping the small and medium economies to stabilize. China’s growth trajectory and its commitment for the win-win cooperation, shared destiny, opening up and lasting prosperity for all, is materializing for us all. As a responsible and important member of world community and founder of SCO, China is playing its due role to strive for better development not only at the level of the organization but beyond as well.
The author is Founder Director, Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, Pakistan.